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Money from Sandy relief concert being put to work

By DAVID B. CARUSO Published: January 1, 2013

“We are looking to set up a long-term camp,” King said.

Founded in 1988 by a hedge fund manager, Paul Tudor Jones, the Robin Hood Foundation is one of New York City's premier anti-poverty charities. It spends about $125 million per year funding a wide array of food banks, schools, medical clinics, and other programs.

Still overseen and financed by big names on Wall Street, the charity is considered a pioneer in “venture philanthropy.” The programs it funds are put through rigorous performance evaluations, with a goal of rewarding nonprofit groups that achieve the strongest result per dollar spent.

The foundation's executive director, David Saltzman, said it has tried to apply some of those concepts to the Sandy relief effort.

“Our general strategy is to get out to the hardest-hit communities … and see with our own eyes who is doing good work, and then be able to pump money into the strongest organizations doing the most needed work in the toughest-hit communities,” he said. “That is the kind of grant-making you can't do from behind a desk.”

Robin Hood had also been in charge of distributing the $65 million raised by the Concert for New York after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Saltzman said that in the weeks ahead, he anticipated that the foundation would focus on housing — still a critical concern in neighborhoods where many houses are still uninhabitable, or lack power and heat.

“We need to make sure nobody is freezing this winter in New Jersey, or New York or Connecticut,” he said.

That effort has included making a $1 million grant to the Affordable Housing Alliance, in Monmouth County, N.J., which is using the money to buy and install manufactured homes for people displaced by the storm. Legal aid groups have also gotten donations to help storm victims maximize FEMA benefits and deal with banks and insurers.

Robin Hood has also made a $2 million grant to a program, administered by the Fund for the City of New York, that will make interest-free loans to nonprofit groups that suffered losses in the storm.

“Not one single penny will be diverted to anything other than helping people who were hurt by this storm,” Saltzman said.

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